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AMPU - Delivering Direct Democracy through Technology

By Jel in Internet
Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 11:09:37 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

I've been thinking of a project for a while now, and mentioned bits and pieces of it in comments on K5. There seemed to be some interest, although people were asking for more details.

So here's the whole story, as it's panned out so far. I could use some help on it, if there are any politically-minded coders around here =)

The problem

For a while now, many people have been bored with voting, and with the governments and political parties for which they can vote.

Some say people aren't entertained enough with the system, and it needs to be better understood or more fun.

I think the problem is the opposite one. I think that people have come to understand the system too well. Many have said that democracy as we know it is inadequate. And, while these arguments are fairly unknown, I think many people are beginning to see the cracks in the system, even if they aren't yet fully aware of the flaws.

In short, I think we have outgrown the typical version democracy being sold, just as we outgrew everything before it.

The solution

What I propose is a new system, not so new that it hasn't ever been talked about. Not even so new that it has never been used. When it was used, however, the world was not suited for it. Now, with the advent of the Internet, Direct Democracy's time has finally come. It is time for people to make decisions on their own.

What the 'net gives us

The Internet gives us two very important things. First of all, we can now organise ourselves based upon interests. No longer are we limited to essentially irrelevant criteria such as location, language, education, and wealth or status.

What we can do now, and what we have been doing on the 'net for some time, is to get together and discuss the things we care about. Not only that, we can ignore the millions of other subjects that we don't care about at all.

This is crucial. These possibilities, each of which the 'net delivers to us so easily, are exactly the issues which we once needed. These problems are the very ones that democracy as we know it was designed to solve. Since we couldn't organise ourselves, and get together to make decisions without getting lost in a myriad of decisions we knew nothing about, we gave away our rights and elected representatives to do our decision making for us. This "representative democracy" solved a problem, but make no mistake.. in order to solve that problem, we gave up a major portion of our rights, and in the process we put too much power in the hands of too few. Most democracies are formed when kings and dictators are overthrown. We risked our lives for freedom from the imposed rules of another, and then proceeded to replace those overthrown with new people to make our decisions.

Ever since the dawn of the Internet, people have been making decisions on it. In fact, it's been those very decisions which caused the Internet to take the shape it did. The model of free decision making which the Internet follows is the precise model which brought freedom of communication and expression to the world. What's more, it didn't happen in the centuries that other methods of decision making take to produce political change -- the web is only ten years old. That's right - by collaborating over the net, we can progress at a phenomenal rate. The very fact that local laws of countries have been unable to keep up with the inter net's rate of change proves that it is a superior system -- one that can adapt to new circumstances, situations, and social needs faster than any before.

What's to be done with this new potential

There is only one thing to be done with this great new opportunity -- take advantage of it. Build an organised system out of it, and start to take back control from the governments which are no longer needed. After all, governments didn't create the net. Almost every person on the planet who knows it loves it, except those in power. I doubt there is a government in the world which hasn't planned or tried to limit it in some way. The Taliban wanted it completely stopped throughout their country, except for their own use.

So, given that this technological "direct democracy" or "demarchy" is more sophisticated than normal "representative democracy", does that mean it's perfect? No, it has many flaws. But not as many. For one thing, it does not guarantee good results. Just like the normal democratic system which it has a lot in common with, direct democracy can be used to decide that evil things should be done, if that is the will of those making decisions. What cannot happen, though, is for one person to be elected to power, and do lots of evil things throughout his reign. That's exactly what can happen with our current system, and did happen when Hitler was elected to power in democratic Germany.

Direct democracy is much more sophisticated, though, while bearing enough similarities to our current system that it wouldn't feel too alien for us. With direct democracy, normal citizens are elected to make minor decisions, and when they have done so, they immediately become normal citizens again. The system, in this respect, is similar to jury service.

This is a nice enough system. However, I simply don't believe it provides enough incentive to replace our current system. Neither do I feel, as many others didn't, that it is workable without some assistance from technology.

So what can technology give us which fills in the gaps? Well, most of Internet's decision making was done on Usenet, sometimes known as "Internet Newsgroups". This system, for readers who came to the net a little later and might not be familiar with it, is very similar to newer website ideas like forums, or bulletin boards, and also with mailing lists.

Of course that's nothing new. It is, however, the first part of what we need -- a way for people to organise themselves based on what they care about, not on which county they are in, or on their income level.

What makes this new?

What else do we need then, and how can we combine this? We've got our information on a subject of interest and an ability to discuss issues from the newsgroups. What we need now, then, is the ability to vote on those issues. That is a simple enough addition. Newsgroups are organised into hierarchies, so that the top group might be environment, and the group underneath specialises that discussion to a sub-issue, such as discussions of the ocean environment.

To create a specialised discussion about a particular jury to vote upon an issue such as global warming, then, we simply need to add a subgroup, as is done almost every day on Usenet newsgroups. No technical issue there.

The members of this jury then, would be elected to jury service from members of the community who already care about the environment enough to spend time listening and discussing the issue by joining the environment newsgroup. This solves a problem many people have had with previous suggestions of direct democracy - that people don't know enough about the issues. Another problem often raised, is that people may simply not take the vote seriously. This has been proven wrong by studies in real life though, with normal citizens taking decisions very seriously, just as we know they do. Why do we know they do? Because we use this very system for juries -- our most important decisions. We have juries elected and given the facts on specific issues precisely because we do not trust our governments to do the job of deciding our fates properly.

So what is left then, to make a system that can truly organise our societies the way our current governments do? Well, we can make decisions. That generic system will cover any decisions we need to make, from what temperature toilet seats should be, to whether the entire system of government needs to be abandoned in favor of a better one just discovered. But we need some way to implement our decisions once we've made them. That's easy enough. Create another subgroup, a taskforce. Invite people to join the taskforce, either on a voluntary basis, or by asking contractors to estimate their prices just as government does now. The taskforce can complete it's work, and report back to the newsgroup which originally created the decision to do the work. Of course, the jury is disbanded by now, moved on. So if the taskforce comes back and says that things aren't working out as planned, a new jury elected to decide whether or not to continue the work will have new members, with unbiased opinions on which options are best. Since the jury who started the work reported all their decisions and plans to the group in order to let them create the taskforce, everything decided is a matter of public record, and can easily be recalled for further study.

Documentation is always important

Keeping documents as a matter of public record is another necessity of this system. The system requires information to be public, of course. Moreover, it requires information to be revised. As new decisions are made, plans will change. Comments on issues need to be stored, just as comments and revisions to documents do. Information therefore needs to be tracked. Thankfully, programmers working together over networks have had this issue for many years, and have devised and extensively tested very good solutions to the problem. You may have used a version of the system, in fact -- the revision system in modern word processors such as Microsoft's "Word". This technology is not simply for text documents, though.. with revision control, it is a simple matter to track new versions of photographs, diagrams, music, and anything else imaginable. What's more, every document related to a project can be stored together at a certain point in time, so that, say, every document relating to the state of the farming industry during 1991 can be frozen in time. This flexibility of information is exactly the power needed for people to take power back into their own hands, and to manage their situation both effectively and intelligently. In fact, it is likely more power than most governments can easily access now.

One issue which may be familiar is that of importing, or linking resources. This is much like the hyperlinks used on websites so well to effectively make one giant book out of every related subject on the net. Groups often need to share information and decisions. By linking rules and decisions made in one newsgroup (or SIG -- special interest group), it is possible to simply follow the outcomes of other discussions which only have a minor influence on your favorite issue, without actively following their discussions. As their decisions are modified, the new version automatically becomes available to everyone who needs to know about it. This is where the version control system becomes even more powerful. When deciding to construct a building, a certain version of the safety standard may need to be chosen and worked to. It is no good working to a moving target, which might be in the process of being reconsidered by the Health and Safety Working group. It is possible, then, to link a project's specifications to the version of a document which is current at that time. Then, work can follow that standard, and a later project could choose to update the building to later standards when it is deemed necessary.

Besides importing, there is one more feature needed, which is related to importing links, is that of hierarchies. I've touched on this before, for the most part describing how it is used in standard Newsgroups. I would like to go into a little more detail about how it would work in AMPU, though. By defining rules in a parent group, at the top of the hierarchy, it is possible to define global decisions. These decisions would filter down through the hierarchy to subgroups, so that, say all the rules of the global environment group would also become rules of the subgroups environment.USA, and environment.UK. This would work similarly for, say, a school, which would inherit all of it's rules from the parent group, which would define rules for every school in the country. Schools can then define their own special rules for things which only apply to them, such as "Insulting Mr. Bard's hairstyle is not allowed." Of course, in a true democracy, very few things are set in stone, and it is possible for an individual community to override to override standard laws. For example, Amish communities could greatly benefit from such features. Special needs schools could also use such methods. In fact, though, it would be easy for all Amish communities to import a the rules of a group such as religion.amish, just as special needs schools could easily import psychology.carer_methods.special_needs, to have their guidelines always follow the very latest practices in caring for special needs children. Should it ever be globally agreed that certain things are intolerable, then it would also be a simple issue to lock laws, and apply them to all subgroups within the hierarchies.

Is there anything left, then? Surely a new form of government which is superior to everything we've relied on for years isn't specified so easily? Yes, there is a lot left. Much of these simple additions have technical considerations which will take a lot of work to implement. However, given the complexities of our current governments, I think the system proposed here is incredibly simple and efficient by comparison. What is more, the system is transparent. There are no complex dealings obscured from public view. All successes and failures are made in public, where everyone can see them. Corruption is next to impossible, as far as I can foresee, since no one is extraordinarily powerful except for the moments when they become jurors for the duration of a single vote an issue. Even then, they are individual members of a randomly-selected panel, each of which can see the same issues they can.

There is a way

Assuming we're convinced, and this is such a great system, how could we go about bringing this to the world as a new form of government? Well, for one thing, not every country is ready for democracy, let alone this. Societies go through stages of development. Democracy is one of the later stages, coming after monarchies and dictatorships. Even in countries like the USA, and the UK, where I think standard democracy is "on it's last legs", so to speak, it is difficult to imagine either current governments, or people who are set in their ways simply accepting such a huge change.

However, I believe there is a way. Regardless of political beliefs, this system would be a very valuable tool in the organisation of individual associations, clubs, and other limited groups. From there, it would not be such a large step if the system were adopted in colleges and other institutions. Businesses would surely adopt such a system eventually, assuming it truly proved to be an efficient tool. The profits would demand such adoption. Given gradual adoption in Internet-wide projects, clubs, societies, institutions, and companies, government itself is really the only thing left. I believe, by that stage, people would be more than ready for AMPU. In the end, it would be relatively easy to simply import these individual organisations into subgroups of a global hierarchy, possibly applying some kind of transformation map to rename things defined within the organisation itself to conform to naming standards used globally.

A name, for this beast?

What then, would we call such a system? AMPU? What does that mean? That's hopeless! Actually, I quite like it. It stands for something you might have heard of, especially if you're from the United States of America. It stands for "A More Perfect Union".

Anyway, I ain't the best programmer on the planet, and I'm a little rusty at non-web code too, but I do enjoy coding, and think this is worth building, if not actually using. For one thing, I think the Debian and Linux communities might find it useful. I know the Debian project uses a voting system right now. If you like the idea too, get in touch -- maybe we can get something started. Funding, anyone?

- Jel,


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AMPU - Delivering Direct Democracy through Technology | 79 comments (69 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
Better way to entertain (3.85 / 7) (#1)
by xriso on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 01:24:39 AM EST


Where politicians use paintball games to establish leadership. This will be televised.

Where in parlaiment if someone says the "magic word" they will have goo dumped on them in 10-30 seconds. This will be televised.
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)

That WAS entertaining, but (3.25 / 4) (#3)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 01:42:18 AM EST

That WAS entertaining, I quite enjoyed it. But honestly..

It's not really extreme to propose a slightly new twist on our current system using a little bit of help from modern technology, is it? If you have any belief in the evolution of culture (read: belief in memetics), then it's just the same as every other idea that's been implemented in the past - a tiny improvement, based on what's come before.

Honestly, can you imagine a new political system which improves on what we have and is LESS extreme?
...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
aha! (3.33 / 3) (#13)
by rcarver on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 06:25:43 AM EST

so _that's_ what XP is all about! I knew it couldn't have anything to do with software developmet.. it's too daft.

[ Parent ]
Let's continue... (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by MiddleFunger on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 10:12:40 PM EST

...on the silly thread for a second. How about, instead of paintball to establish leadership, we have one on one gladitorial combat between the leaders of nations to determine who is the winner of a particular conflict. Could you imagine how much shorter World War II would have been? Winston Churchill could have slapped that nasty ass mustache of Hitler's face and used it to wipe his bum. No fuss, no muss. Another interesting matchup: John Kennedy and Nikita Krushchov. Wanna build missiles in my backyahd? Taste my cold steel commie-pinko! (apologies to the Communists in the forums for the deragatory 'commie-pinko.' It is used solely for historical accuracy)
Every day is a good day, when...
-Neil Swaab
[ Parent ]
maybe i'm just a jaded cynic (3.83 / 6) (#2)
by typhatix on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 01:34:45 AM EST

but I'm tired of listening to how the internet is going to revolutionize (society/culture/government) and bring people closer together so that they have better control over the (government/economy) and are more empowered.

This reads like the political version of the same crap 3 years ago about how the internet would revolutionize the economy.

To comment on your article's point directly: yes I am tired of the current system and feel powerless, but I'd be terrified of direct democracy. Also, I don't think a bunch of people on a web forum is going to devise a new world government. People act like "if everyone could just discuss things, they could iron out their differences and compromise on a great solution." Yeah. That worked out real great here circa 9/11. People will always disagree, and most will make decisions based upon knee-jerk uninformed reactions. While we must protect them from the government, we must also protect the government from them.

Of course people disagree (4.00 / 1) (#4)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 01:56:23 AM EST

I mentioned people disagreeing a few times. And it's not just rhetoric about a grand scheme, if you propose actual working software which could be useful and slowly adopted the world over. The concept is no scarier than the web itself. Nothing like this could ever happen overnight. THAT would be scary, even to me. But society never works like that, and is probably incapable of doing so.

As for 9/11, as I stated in the article, some countries just aren't at the point yet where democracy of any kind is suitable. So no, compromise isn't going to work too well with the Taliban. But we all know that, it's quite obvious.

What we don't know is whether the UK an US, for example, could eventually merge based on a system like this. It's not such an unimaginable step to think that they might *eventually* (think long-term here, not tomorrow) see eye-to-eye on the majority of issues, given that the world will get smaller and smaller, and eventually their issues will become ever more related.

And on your last point, about knee-jerk reactions, as I said, this has been proven not to happen in actual fact by studies. Apart from that, I actually raised that issue directly, and once more, as I said, the court uses this system all the time. We generally consider it to be the fairest method of trial, and of deciding major issues which may change the law forever.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
I see your point but... (3.33 / 3) (#6)
by typhatix on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 02:38:01 AM EST

Yes I'm aware changes take time, but you are talking about fundamentally changing the way governments (like the US) function and that will involve some sort of revolution. I don't see a US amendment to do away with representative democracy ever happening.

The ability of people to converse across the world does not mean that they will overcome their differences nor will they approach a uniform culture. This will happen to some extent, but cultures themselves are very firmly entrenched in the minds of their populace. You vastly underestimate how different the perspectives of people across the world are.

You also say as the world becomes smaller issues become more and more related. You forget that geographical proximity plays in. The reason most people in say Los Angeles don't give a hoot beyond "oh thats sad" about massive earthquakes in Delhi, or people in Germany don't care that much about brush fires in Australia is because it is something happening in a location on a map. Even if they know some people from chatrooms who are there, there is still a distance between them being that they never met. I'll find it very interesting if someone on kuro5hin undergoes massive suffering, but I won't care as much as if there's a gas explosion 30 miles away near my cousin fred.

You compare people on a webforum to people on a jury? (and by the way, jurys do not make decisions which can change laws, judges do) People tend to not take online discussions as seriously as they do most other forms of communication. People spending days deciding the fate of a human being they look at every day is different from arguing about some abstract idea like a new government. Expect to bog down into shouting matches interrupted by trolls and ascii ass pictures.

Also, history has shown that while people love to shout and rally online, they rarely take that into real life action. Look at all the campaigns of "everyone, this big issue is bad, lets all right letters" which garner thousands of shows of support online and 3 real life letters. Most online organized protests fail miserably (who were those 5 guys protesting the DeCSS case back when anyway?). Activists complain about this trend again and again.

[ Parent ]
Interesting comments (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 03:25:22 AM EST

You make some interesting comments regarding people's translation of online acts into real life. Most of the other issues are actually answered in the article, though.

On the issue of real life action, you do have a point, but I don't see a lot of politicians actually getting up and doing something about what they argue for either. And I see televised parliamentary debates everyday of people sleeping in the houses from which they are supposed to ensure our welfare.

I think such issues as flames are simply more noticeable online, because no one would usually bother to actually record them in other mediums.

In short, most of `online attitude' issues you raise can be altered with simple image control. If people are expected to take things seriously, they generally do. It's for that simple reason that people misbehave in pubs, yet behave just fine in an Opera.

As I say, the article itself discusses most of the other issues you raised.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
Juries do change the law, not just judges (2.66 / 3) (#14)
by Echad on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 07:45:17 AM EST

Two things: Juries CAN make law, and Judges don't always make it, in fact, they often don't in a courtroom setting, right where you thought they would.

Responding to one of Typhatix's well-written comments -- I gave a couple of them high marks because I have serious doubts as well, and they stem from the fact that I have the misfortune to hold a law degree, and to have practised as an admin. law judge for several years (career change in progress).

Anyway, in the midst of an explanation, a comment was made in a parenthetical that "jurys do not make decisions which can change laws, judges do" [sic] and that is not strictly true, either way.

There is a creature in the law called "jury nullification" which the majority of you will have heard of.. many people feel that the OJ trial exemplified the concept perfectly. You see, it IS true that Judges make law in the sense that their decisions, and here I mean more the written decisions, and those are generated only on the Appellate level, NOT on the trial or "Supreme Court" level but only at the Appellate or Appeals level, where a written decision is generated, do make law, law that is called precedent. Thus judges at the trial level typically do NOT make law.. they don't write decisions, therefore there is no precedent, or the precedent that is created is both harder to find, and based on a jury's fact finding (the jury is the fact finder, the judge makes determinations of law).

This kind of law, precedent-created law, isn't anything enacted by the legislature, but it does make law, real and binding, because another case in that jurisdiction can use the decision as "binding precedent" for THEIR case if the facts are the same (and that's where all the arguing goes.. any attorney can find where the facts are not the same.. it's what they do) and if the Judge who made the law, or precedent, as it is called, comes from a HIGHER court.. let's say the highest court of a given state, it has even STRONGER value as precedent, although it is not binding, only persuasive in another juridiction -- but binding it the same jurisdiction, of course. (mini-law lesson, sorry)

Decisions by the US Supreme Court (in this case, when they say Supreme, they mean it.. the highest court in this country, not trial level, as "Supreme Court" typically means) are binding precedent for ALL jurisdictions and overrule any cases that made contrary precedent.. so let's say the high court of whatever state, made precedent in a case, and all the lower courts have to follow it in that state.. if it goes to the US Supreme Court and the decision is over-ruled, then everything changes.. on a smaller level, if you have binding precedent from your jurisdiction's Court of Appeals and the high court of your state makes a different decision, again, everything changes, but just for that state, that jurisdiction.

It gets complicated. At the trial level, there is TYPICALLY no written decision to go into the Reporters (books that contain all the decisions and make up the law libraries.. tons of books, all the decisions from every court.. a huge body of work) But sometimes a lower court (as the trial court is called) WILL issue a written decision... in which case, it will make precedent, of course binding only insofar as that level of that court and if there is nothing binding to the contrary in that state's Appellate Division.

Now.. how do Juries make law? Well, let's say your jury sat through a trial, and the evidence very clearly points toward a decision.. now, this can be a criminal case or a civil case, and remember, the "standard of proof" is DIFFERENT.. for criminal, it is "beyond a reasonable doubt" but for civil, where the other individual's freedom and liberty aren't at risk, the standard is merely "preponderance of the evidence" in other words, a little more one way than the other.. hardly a difficult standard to meet. And since it is easier to meet, it is easier to disagree with the findings, and easier for the Jury to go its own way, although typically a Jury will follow the judges directions unless they feel strongly about a case, and someone's life or liberty is at jeopardy

And also remember that juries are ONLY called when there is a question of FACT. Where the only issue is a question of LAW, then the judge decides. Juries are only involved where there are issues of fact to be decided (was he there, was it his boot, was she sleeping with the neighbor, does this chemical affect people the way these experts say it does, did the person fall five flights of stairs due to a faulty step, was the machine at the workshop sufficiently safe, were there sufficient warnings on it, did they retrofit it so that it would be as safe as possible, did the plaintiff defeat the safety mechanisms by removing them in order to make things go faster and if so was he under pressure to do so by the foreman or forewoman?)

You see what I'm saying.. it is a question of fact. And so, if the jury, after hearing the entire trial, decides in their room, where they deliberate, to come to a decision that is NOT supported by the evidence, they are engaging in JURY NULLIFICATION which is a way of making law as well.

Some people feel (and I won't even get into where I am on this one because it is not relevant, but it is a good example of something most people have heard of, that's the ONLY reason I'm using it) In any event, there are those individuals who are of the opinion that OJ Simpson's criminal verdict was a perfect example of Jury Nullification because they feel the evidence was strongly present and met the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard.

In support of this point of view, were interviews given by some of the members of the jury who seemed to indicate that such was the case. Interviews where members of the jury said things to the effect that they weren't going to send one of their own to jail and that she (the "white woman") got what she deserved -- anger at OJ's wife for having married him, and add to that the fact that she was sullied during the trial quite effectively by opposing counsel. Then there were those who simply said things such as; lots of our own have gone to jail, and this time we're going to say no, even if he did it, they do it all the time and don't go, the law isn't fair, and we're setting him free. That wasn't a quote, but a paraphrase of some of the things heard after the trial.

I saw some of these interviews and was astonished, but then, I guess, if you look at the law and you see that there HAS been a tremendous amount of selective prosecution and that on average a minority spends several times more jail time than does a white person for the same crime, and there are national statistics going back for years to substantiate this, and that women spend far more time for the same crime than do men.. a woman who kills her abusive husband will go to jail for life without parole while a man killing a woman during a rape can be out in seven years.

It's hard to believe, but if you don't, then research it.. what you find will horrify you. Our system of justice isn't just, something most of us already know, and many of us would rather not think about because it is threatening, and frightening. It comes down to this: Is it (our system) far better than most out there.. yes, yes it is. Is it anywhere near as good as it could be? No, not yet. It doesn't detract one's love of country to be willing to see it clearly, flaws and perfection.

Back to the issue at hand; And so, Jury Nullification is one way in which a Jury can "make law" by simply bringing back the determination that THEY want. However.. if the jury finds someone GUILTY and the facts clearly don't support it, the Judge CAN set aside the verdict. A sort of "judge nullification" if you will. He can nullify a guilty verdict that he or she feels is not substantiated by the facts (thereby saving many people who would, because of prejudice and hatred, gone to jail or worse.)

It doesn't work the other way though.. if the jury finds "not guilty" (not that "not guilty" means "innocent" it simply means a finding of "not guilty" which can mean many things, only one of which is that the person is actually innocent) If the jury finds the individual "not guilty" the Judge CANNOT nullify that determination and find the person guilty.. it would open the door to too much potential abuse and what would be the point of having a jury at all? As for the judge's power to nullify the jury's determination of guilty, it is used very, very, sparingly, and only in the most obvious and egregious miscarriages of justice.

All of this from one parenthical.. I thought if I was going to say that Judges don't always make law, and Juries often do, I should have some fact behind what I was saying, some explanation. And so, there you have it; Judges, at least at trial level, do not typically make law, whereas Juries can make law using their power of Jury Nullification. They can completely and utterly disregard whatever instructions the judge gives them and "do justice" -- whatever their view of justice is.

The judge can "nullify" the jury in one more way, but it is relatively minor.. In a civil (not criminal) case where there is a monetary award, the judge can reduce a ridiculously high (ridiculous in the eyes of the judge) award. Let's say the jury is very moved by the actions of a company that knowingly manufacters something that will end up killing people and they do the math and figure it will be cheaper for them to pay the lawsuits than to recall the product. Unfortunately, this happens too often.

Well, in such an egregious case, the jury can award a GREAT DEAL of punitive damages. Punitive damages are exactly what they sound like. Punitive. Punishment, "You did something horrible and without conscious and you will be hit in the pocket so you don't do it again because money is the only language you speak.." and they award let's say, 20 percent of the company's entire net worth to the widow who lost her entire family as a result of ABC Corporation's failure to recall the part that causes the fire.. because the company figured it was too expensive for them to do so and they decided that they'd just pay out for whoever brought a claim and their actuaries told them that the amounts paid out would be far less than the cost of recall.. and that the document stating that is in evidence. It's called a "smoking gun" and IF the jury engages in Jury Nullification and ignores the judges directions as to the maximum, etc. etc. and comes back with a 100 million dollar decision, then they HAVE made precedent because now awards that high are now "thinkable" are possible, can be obtained..

And if an attorney has a similar case, he can quote it to his or her jury, and tell them.. look, we have a smoking gun, look at what they did.. they made a cold blooded decision that it would be easier to do the typical thing and fight and settle (which is how most lawsuits end.. over 95% settle out of court, or on the steps of the courthouse) and since settlements never bring in the 100 million dollar verdicts, the company would have been right.. it would have been cheaper (monetarily, but not in terms of justice or human life.. personally I think 100% of their net worth isn't enough and they should go to jail for this sort of thing) but without that punitive damages decision, the actuaries would have been right. But with it, other companies will think twice before making a similar decision and that benefits us all.

The most the judge can do is force the number down, but only by a certain percentage.. the jury can't simply say "okay, 1 billion dollars" -- the judge will engage in a power he or she has to reduce the amount of the award.. but if it is punitive damages and if he or she reduces it too much, the attorney will appeal (and win).

So, there we have it.. Judges on the trial level don't typically make law, whereas juries (obviously on the trial level) can and do make law and set precedent.

A lot of information for a short summary.

Nothing says "no nookie" like a home on wheels!
[ Parent ]

Dreck, dreck, and more dreck... (3.00 / 2) (#15)
by KOTHP on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 09:37:42 AM EST

Juries CAN make law, and Judges don't always make it, in fact, they often don't in a courtroom setting, right where you thought they would.

'Judges' isn't a proper noun and shouldn't be capitalized here. 'Juries' is in the same category. I suspect you read a legal brief somewhere and noticed that some seemingly arbitrary words were capitalized. If a term (such as 'Plaintiff', 'Corporation') is defined in the text to replace references to what would otherwise be a proper name (such as 'Bob Jones', 'XYZ Inc.'), then the substitution is typically capitalized throughout the text.

I think you hit the key points of jury nullification, but you sure poured a thick layer of crap on top of it (hint : the O.J. case is not an example). I'll attempt to be more concise, for no obviously good reason.

One of the first things learned in a freshman-level undergraduate 'Intro to Law' class is that juries determine the facts. Judges interpret and apply the law.

'Jury nullification' is a controversial concept. It states the obvious fact that if a jury strongly disagrees with what it knows the law to be, it can make ridiculous findings of fact to prevent that law from being enforced. Example - Bob is found growing pot to ease his advanced state of cancer. He's caught, arrested, and brought to trial. The law, as written, states that anyone who grows pot is committing a felony and should be sentenced to 10+ years in prison. All of the evidence and witnesses make it obvious that Bob was, indeed, growing pot. The jury has a chit-chat and agrees that the law is morally wrong. They return to the courtroom and say, 'we find the defendant not guilty of growing pot'.

Decisions by the US Supreme Court (in this case, when they say Supreme, they mean it.. the highest court in this country, not trial level, as "Supreme Court" typically means)

Most states refer to their high courts as 'Superior Court'...'Supreme Court' almost always refers to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I gave a couple of them high marks because I have serious doubts as well, and they stem from the fact that I have the misfortune to hold a law degree, and to have practised as an admin. law judge for several years (career change in progress).

Your post was informative, but my gut feeling is that this statement is a lie. *shrug*. FWIW, 'practised' is an archaic adjective synonymous with 'skilled'. I suspect it was a misspelling here, but if you were just being pretentious, note that it is incorrect to use 'practised' as a verb.

[ Parent ]

Um. (4.50 / 2) (#39)
by Ken Arromdee on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 02:19:57 PM EST

"Practised" is perfectly acceptable British spelling.

[ Parent ]
Yup (none / 0) (#48)
by KOTHP on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 07:23:38 PM EST

I found it in one of those Brit dictionaries. Oh, well. I was certainly in a pissy mood when I wrote that entire comment. Not that I don't agree with what I said, just that normally I wouldn't have actually posted it. All things considered, it's not really that inflammatory until you reach the part where I accuse the guy of lying about his qualifications. His post does lack the focus and attention to detail I'd expect from one with a legal education. Oh, well, can't delete it now...

[ Parent ]
Those darn "Brit" dictionaries, huh? (none / 0) (#60)
by Echad on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 02:07:05 AM EST

KOTHP said the following:
I found it (the correct spelling, practised)in one of those Brit dictionaries. Oh, well. I was certainly in a pissy mood when I wrote that entire comment. Not that I don't agree with what I said, just that normally I wouldn't have actually posted it. All things considered, it's not really that inflammatory until you reach the part where I accuse the guy of lying about his qualifications. His post does lack the focus and attention to detail I'd expect from one with a legal education. Oh, well, can't delete it now...

I reply:

No, dreck-head, you can't take it back. As for your pissy mood, have you heard of taking an aspirin or if that isn't quite enough to help, there is always prozac. YOUR mood should not have anything to do with allowing you to attack others. It's a simple concept, you might want to work on it, and quickly.

Then you say it "wasn't really inflammatory" until you reach the part where you "accuse the guy about lying about his qualifications." I beg to differ. It was, as you well know, and as anyone reading it would see, extremely inflammatory from the get go. Talking about an UNDERGRAD "Intro to Law" class and stating that my knowledge was inferior to what would be found in such a class. Giving your "opinion" (but giving it as fact and stating that mine was wrong) regarding what states call their courts.. wrong. Stating who the fact finder is, and who the finder of law is.. Jury the former, Judge the latter, and saying it is that way, when really it's only MOSTLY that way (the course you referred to that you took? The intro course? Intro courses have no time to go into the more interesting asides of how the law worked.

But just because you had access at some time in your life to a bit of knowledge doesn't translate into you knowing all there is to know. Aren't you bright enough to know that BY DEFINITION, an intro class is ONLY an intro and cannot possibly explain it all, and take your cue from that? Nope.

Then you attack my spelling, and everything else I said, including your statement regarding the legal brief.. your "opinion" that I might have "picked up a legal brief" sometime and got some words from it.

And you don't see how appallingly offensive all this was? You state above that you "shouldn't have said it, but you did because you were in a pissy mood, BUT THAT YOU DON'T DISAGREE WITH WHAT YOU SAID.. you simply wouldn't have posted it.

Let's see then. You agree with what you said, but you wouldn't have posted it. Okay, so you agree that calling someone's work "dreck" i.e., "shit" is okay, and that attacking their use of the language WITHOUT FIRST CHECKING YOUR FACTS is okay, and attacking their education is okay, and attacking their knowledge and explanation regarding the court structure is okay because YOU, you who are what, do what for a living? believe that the other person is wrong.. you think all this is all right.

Even though you were dead wrong on every single solitary point you set forth, you still feel that you "don't disagree" with it. How charming. You're consistant. Ignorant and stands by it. Showers vulgarity upon the heads of others and maintains that it is a refreshing rain. Bully for you, bully.

And YOU don't think the post showed the focus and attention to detail that you'd expect from someone with a legal education? How incredibly dim are you? THIS IS KUROSHIN. I don't HAVE TO POST BRIEFS here. The post was ALREADY waaaaaay too long, you'd have had me put in more detail? Well I did what you wanted today, I spent hours putting all the detail in just for you. Crist. (intentional mispelling to avoid offending) I have to defend any spelling it seems. And Focus???? AT 3 or 4 in the morning? I've reread it and agree it could have done with an edit, but for something that long, with THAT much information, written THAT late, it was pretty damn good.

One more thing: Just out of curiousity, being the paragon of legal knowledge and wisdom that you've set yourself up as, what kind of post, given the need to convey a great deal of information in limited space AND not wanting to spend the time to draft the equivalent of a legal Memorandum, would satisfy YOUR expectations as to what would be sufficient "focus" and "detail" in an online post? We aren't grading memoranda or briefs, just one quasi-memorandum containing a great deal of information in a short space. But it fell short for you. What do you do for a living that you are qualified to make that determination, since you've gone ahead and done it, in addition to accusing me of lying about my profession. Hmm? Tell us all. What do you do that qualifies you to libel another person, tell me. Because frankly, I take a rather dim view of libel. (to clarify: Libel=written, slander=verbal, Libel is easier to prove, slander, obviously, for evidentiary reasons, far harder)

And so, dreck, shall we discuss libel? Do you wish to explore that with me? For I assure you, I do have experience in this area of the law, having represented a few clients in this type of case, and not that long ago. So.. care to retract, or shall we enter into a discussion on the pros and cons of libelling someone without cause, but with malice and then, upon having an opportunity to set it straight, EXACERBATES the situation by doing the equivalent of shrugging and stating that he stands by what he said, even though he wouldn't have posted it, but for a "pissy" mood. Oh yes, we have a dance, we do indeed and your pride is going to land you in considerable discomfort.

You're not man enough to apologize, that much is clear. Attacking is easy, knowing when you've screwed up and need to make amends is far far harder and frankly, I don't think you have it in you. You appear to derive too much pleasure from antagonizing others. The only problem is that you don't see how foolish it makes you appear.


Nothing says "no nookie" like a house on wheels!
[ Parent ]

Well, if it's any consolation (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by Jel on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 03:52:32 AM EST

Well, if it's any consolation for spending so long on this, I enjoyed reading it, and learned quite a lot (especially being from outside the US).

I agree that the whole thing seemed quite offensive, but it was certainly interesting to hear the difference in perspective between intro law and higher levels. I always think it's much more interesting to hear the debates that go on between members of a profession (assuming KOTHP can be considered such, in this instance -- I don't know), rather than just the debates that are presented on the surface.

Aside from that, you do a great job of putting posts in their place without getting libelous yourself (see? I would have said slanderous there, usually =). So it was informative in other ways, too.

So, not as wasted as you might think =)

[ Parent ]
Thank you -- it is indeed consolation (none / 0) (#64)
by Echad on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 06:15:33 AM EST

Thank you, Jel. I appreciate your post tremendously. Here I am, writing these incredibly long posts, and thinking "there is no way in hell that anyone is going to read this all the way through" and there you are, and you did. :)

Thank you also for your opinion that I managed to avoid doing what he did.. I didn't want to libel him, but I was very angry.. and yet another thank you for noticing that it was very offensive. I can't help wondering why no one else saw how offensive it was for this guy to dress me down whilst getting all the facts wrong, and then post again, and say nothing more than he was feeling "pissy" and wouldn't have posted it, but "doesn't disagree" (don't you love that double negative.. why not come out and say what you mean.. he doesn't disagree.. he agrees) with what he said.

Then I feel compelled to show my colors and I shouldn't have to. I was told by some friends who were over that I should have posted a short "bite me" sort of post and ignored him, that anyone who engages in flamebait, in being offensive and calling one a liar and not bothering to even check the most basic source.. a dictionary! should not be taken seriously, not for a skinny minute.

Argh, but I couldn't. It rankled so much. Being told that it doesn't seem that I have the detail and focus that would be present in one with a legal background.. this from someone who can't spell, and who has no idea of who I am, and uses his "gut" feeling to make the determination... and this based on a long post written in at night, with so much detail in it that making it concise would have required a memorandum.. but lacking detail? My god, all it had was detail after detail after detail. I can't be told I "lack detail" if I provide a whole bunch of it and he disagrees (incorrectly) with all of it.

The thing is, I don't really enjoy the practice (use the c, make him happy) of law.. that's why I took the civil service exam and when I was called in to interview for the Admin. Law Judge position, I jumped all over it, even though it meant a move to a part of the country that I don't like. Courtroom law isn't glamorous, it isn't fun.

Did you know that we have to prepare each case as if for a trial, because it MIGHT go to trial, and if one doesn't prepare as if for trial, one might not find all the bits of evidence that could be used in a settlement negotiation.. but then, after having done this behemoth of work, over 95% of cases settle.. in the judge's chambers, where the Judge essentially tells the party to "work it out, goddamit" (quote, quote, quote.. I've hard that a dozen times) or on the courtroom steps when the defendant sees that the plantiff (this is a civil case, hence the "plantiff" intends to really go through with it.

And even criminal cases.. they settle too. The D.A or ADA (assistant district attorney) or Prosecuting Attorney, or Town Attorney or whomever is prosecuting the case, down to the traffic speeding ticket, will agree to a plea.. especially in little stuff, where the goal for the town is MONEY.. how many speeding tickets end up as "Parking on the Pavement" with a two hundred dollar fine.. but no points, and no speeder on the license. The Town gets the revenue, the speeder gets out of having a speeding ticket on his license, and all is happy.. except for his bank account. ;)

Speaking of which.. here's a bit of free advice. If you EVER get a speeding ticket, most important the first time, but also thereafter, DO NOT PLEAD GUILTY. And DO check the box marked "Do you want a supporting deposition from the arresting officer" or words to that effect.. it's on the back of the ticket next to where you plead. Why? Because often they officer doesn't do the dep and if he doesn't and the case gets postponed and he doesn't and doesn't show again.. it gets dismissed.. no money from you, and you're free. And the officers are often too busy to do these, so they often don't and it's an easy way of getting out of it.

Of course, if he does do it, it might be flawed, which is another way an attorney can get you out of it.. I once had a ticket and the WRONG OFFICER signed the dep! I couldn't believe my eyes. I was doing the worst thing you can do.. I was representing myself, and as the adage goes, an attorney representing himself/herself has a fool for a client.. but it was only a ticket.. and I figured, what the hell.. so I did. Good practice. The thing is, once I saw that, and went to the judge, he almost laughed outloud, which absolutely INFURIATED the officer.. and he tailed me. Closely. All the way home, just hoping I'd make the SMALLEST mistake. Very unnerving since he knew where I lived. But I won :)

Anyway.. thank you once again for your comment which I will and rate highly right now -- I appreciate that you took the time to read all that, and that you saw that I was trying hard to exercise restraint, all things considered.

You said you weren't from this country.. where are you from, if I may inquire? Just curious, since I spent so many years living outside the country.

Thanks again, and good comment! ;)


Nothing says "no nookie" like a house on wheels!
[ Parent ]

Don't worry so much, everyone understands (none / 0) (#65)
by Jel on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 07:30:32 AM EST

I'm in the UK - Northern Ireland, to be precise. Don't let my liberal use of American spelling fool you =)

As for everyone else not seeing it and/or not taking the time to read it... don't worry - I'm sure they see exactly what's going on. It's just that most people prefer not to get involved in such things. I've stayed out of it myself for the most part, if only for lack of knowledge on such matters. But I figured someone should mention it, so I did.

[ Parent ]
Practised vs. Practiced (none / 0) (#58)
by Echad on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 01:31:36 AM EST

Thank you.

My dictionary, where I checked my preferred spelling, the one I was taught as a child, is the Webster's New World Dictionary, Second Edition. It clearly states that practised is good, with the notation that it is primarily a British spelling. Not always, just primarily. I've read that other individual's subsequent post indicating that he was feeling "pissy" but I'm not sure how that excuses flaming someone you don't know.. and with incorrect information to boot.

Either way, I appreciate your post. I understand that it wasn't pro or con my post, per se, but related only to the issue of whether I had mispelled practised (or was being pretentious or whatever it was he said). Thank you for checking and posting.

Interestingly, had I read your post first, I might not have written my *very* long post that responds to what I consider flamebait (calling someone a liar and saying one has a "gut feeling" that they are lying about their profession is so unacceptable I don't know how to express it. Well, I do, but I won't. :)

So now I've gone out of my way, spent a couple of hours of time I could have used in other, far more constructive ways, and posted a very long post, and why? To try and convince some offensive dreck-head that I really am that which I say I am? I should have ignored the flame and risen above it. I didn't, and mea culpa. The only thing is... it's HARD to do that. When someone tells you that your level of knowledge is zero and that anyone who had taken an intro to law class knows more than you do, it's very hard to avoid getting very, very, irritated.

As one bit of explanation, there is the fact that notwithstanding what he said, he got nasty in far more places than at the end. The entire post was one long offensive composition. Starting with a title of "shit, shit and more shit" (Everyone knows what dreck means, after all) then going on to question everything I said, and then telling me and all of us, with total and utter confidence that he knew things he had no clue about, and then ending it by telling me that I had clearly picked up someone's brief, someone superior to me, since "his beer belly" (sorry, I mean "his gut") told him that I wasn't really an A.L.J. -- I don't know what to say. I don't think I've ever come across flamebait that offensive.

And I'm not a net virgin. But I am unaccustomed to this sort of thing where one simply attacks because it is, apparently a really FUN think to do. Yee-haw! (ugh). And as for my post not being an example of the tightest prose ever written? So what? I wrote it at three in the morning, four in the morning and I was exhausted. Sue me for lack of tight prose. I wasn't thrilled with it when I reread it, but nothing in it suggested it should be attacked as it was. Enough, I'm going on about it again, and it's a waste of time. Done and done.


Nothing says "no nookie" like a house on wheels!
[ Parent ]

Reply to "Dreck, dreck, and more dreck" (none / 0) (#57)
by Echad on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 01:03:23 AM EST

Whoa --

You found my comments "informative" but suspect that I'm lying (about being an Admin. Law Judge) and that I am pretentious in the use of my verbs? These were things you said in your flamebait post. You said quite a few other things, almost all of them grossly insulting, superior, smug, and wrong.

Let me clarify a couple of things. First of all, I don't appreciate having you refer to something I took the time to write as "dreck." For those of you, and I know there aren't many, who don't know what "dreck" means, it is a Yiddish word meaning "shit" -- thus, KOTHP found it appropriate to designate my comment as "shit, shit, and more shit" something I would think would qualify as flaming, at the very least.

** Before I go further, I noticed that the abbreviation for Admin. Law Judge looks odd in this font. When you see ALJ, even if doesn't look like the letters A L and J, please note that it is. Sorry. Back to the post. :)

KOTHP said this: "One of the first things learned in a freshman-level undergraduate 'Intro to Law' class is that juries determine the facts. Judges interpret and apply the law."

Well, sorry to burst your pretentious-as-hell bubble, but I never took a "freshman intro to law class." I did, however, attend Albany Law School, a fully accredited and while not Ivy League, one of the better and higher ranked schools, loosely affiliated with Union University.

I graduated in 1992 and passed the NYS bar. Did Law Guardian work, did assigned counsel work, and eventually went into practice doing primarily Workers' Comp. for a local firm in Albany where they paid slave wages for 60-70+ hour weeks. Saturdays were required, Sundays optional. Don't believe it? Too bad, that's how it is for first and second year associates. Long hours, low pay, and since there is a law school in Albany, there are always fresh grads to feed the mill, and so talent came cheap. And it's the state capital. That, and the law school meant lots and lots of lawyers, and a premium on getting with a good firm. So much for that.

As far as Juries interpreting the facts, if you want to get technical, that's not always true either. You insulted and insulted and got zip right. Juries do NOT always interpret the facts, notwithstanding your statement that one learns "in a freshman-level undergraduate 'Intro to Law' class [is] that juries determine the facts.." The truth is that in particularly complicated cases, usually monster cases, big, complex IRS cases (or RICO cases) where there are factual questions, but they are so bound up with the law that it would be impossible to explain the case to a panel (to a jury) often times the Judge IS the finder of fact AND the finder of law.

There are other types of cases in which this is the case, but I'm not being paid to educate you, KOTHP, and so I will leave it to your Undergrad first year into to law class to go into the details of which cases are and which cases are not, heard by a jury as the finder of fact, and what the exceptions are. Of course, an intro class is going to paint in broad strokes, and those broad strokes do not have room for all the complexity that is the law. Mistaking an intro class for a "this is how things are done" definitive explanation is mistake you have apparently made. If it were as simple as an intro to law class, there would be no need for law school to FOLLOW four years of undergrad. Give that some thought. Like attorneys or not, what is taught is complex and not subject to distillation to be served up in a basic intro class which is meant only to whet the appetite.

I don't know what you do and do not know. I do know that you think you know a great deal and have no problem insulting others without bothering to check your facts. An attorney, even an obnoxious attorney, would always check his facts. Nonetheless, YOU suggest that I "may have" picked up a legal brief. I'm furious, shaking with anger -- but you're right. I have picked up legal briefs. Hundreds of them, perhaps thousands as I've written hundreds of them myself. At this point in my career I still craft the argument and do most of the writing because I like to and I'm good at it, but thank god, I don't have to do the footnotes, and can now delegate those to associates and interns. They learn, and they get a credit on the brief and something for their resume which helps them get a job later. That, and I'm much nicer to them than the senior people were to me when I was the intern and associate. I don't expect or want anyone to be in the office on the weekend. Blasphemy in some firms.

You complain about my use of capitalization? That's incredibly lame. If you want to debate me, debate me on the merits of what I have to say, not on my use of the shift key.

As for the practice of law, or "practising" law, you've gotten that one wrong also. Here's what you said:

...'practised' is an archaic adjective synonymous with 'skilled'. I suspect it was a misspelling here, but if you were just being pretentious, note that it is incorrect to use 'practised' as a verb.

Here's the truth: According to any decent dictionary (and I'm using the Webster's New World Dictionary, my desk-side companion) the word "practised" IS a verb, and with the 's' is chiefly the British spelling. Page 1118 of the Second Edition, copyright 1986, 19th printing.

Now, don't you feel pretentious and silly for having attacked before you even bothered to ascertain whether your facts were accurate? Must be the effect of that "Intro to Law" Undergrad class you were referring to, although you never did say whether you actually got into the class, or merely picked up someone else's book (as I apparently picked up a brief, hmmm?) and found some words there and thought you could use them. Tsk, tsk.

Given the fact that I've grown up abroad, lived in Europe and the Middle East for over 12 years, it is NOT surprising that I would, in fact, use the British spelling of the VERB practice and spell it "practised" or "practising" -- not archaic, but British. Unless you consider all things British and all things European to be archaic (which seems to be your suggestion) you might want to issue an apology. Then again, you owe apologies for a number of your statements.

Now Enough Of That--I Must Go Practise My Capitalization Lest My Legal Briefs Appear As Though Written By An Unpractised Attorney. (rofl) With apologies to e e cummings, perhaps I should have typed the prior sentence entirely without caps and without punctuation. As cummings died in 1962, I don't know whether you wrote a letter to him telling him how pretentious and awful his work was, and that it was "dreck".. if you didn't there is always his estate to insult, after all, faulty use of the shift key is a clear indication of fraud, lies, pretentiousness, and general lack of ability. In other words, "dreck," as you so fondly designate it.

And yet another of your faulty comments:

You said that "Most states refer to their high courts as 'Superior Court'...'Supreme Court' almost always refers to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bzzzzzt, buzzer sounds, wrong again. MANY states refer to their TRIAL level court as their Supreme court (oops, no cap) which, as I indicated, is odd. In NYS, for example, the highest court in the state is called Court of Appeals. The mid-level Appellate court is called the Appellate Division, and depending on where you are in the state, you might be in the A.D. 1st Dept., Second, Third, or Fourth Department of the Appellate Division. Opinions, those written things that fill the Reporters (remember, the books containing all the opinions from all the courts in all the jurisdictions plus all the federal courts) are issued by the Appeals court, which CAN be the Appellate Division, which as stated, is the mid-level court in NYS, and of course, by the highest court, the Court of Appeals.

Sometimes, in a particularly complicated case, you'll get an opinion from the lower court, the TRIAL court -- known in NYS as the Supreme Court, although it might be known as the Superior Court or Trial Court or any number of designations from state to state. THERE IS NO ONE RULE FROM STATE TO STATE.

The states have different designations for their trial level courts and for their Appellate level courts. And some states DON'T HAVE an intermediate Appellate level court. They go straight from the trial court to the state's highest court, which might be called The Court of Appeals (it is in NYS) or The Supreme Court (which may be the case, but some states prefer to avoid the use of Supreme for their highest in deference to the US Supreme Court) or whatever that state chooses to designate their high court.

The point of this is that THERE ARE NO RULES. Some states have three levels of courts.. trial, appellate, and highest state court. Some have only two. Some call it this, some call it that. The only people who really know any given state's terminology are those who practise law there. Yes, practise. So please don't tell us what the names of the courts are, since you obviously don't have any idea. That has not, unfortunately, prevented you from insulting and insinuating that I am liar and a cheat because I do know. Sorry that some knowledge is so threatening to you that you have to attack it -- and with such a fearsome weapon as your "gut feeling." Is is reassuring that your "gut" (ugh) makes such important determinations for you, telling you who to attack, who must be lying, who deserves to be flamed. The amazing precognitive gut.

You apparently took what you believed to be the case in your state and extrapolated it to all other jurisdictions. A common error in, well, first year intro to law students, or other folks who have read some sort of "Law Made E-Z" book. A little bit of information can be a dangerous thing if it persuades the holder of said information that they now know it all, as seems to be the case for you, unfortunately.

Finally, your last attack. Not enough to call my post "shit, shit, and more shit" and not enough to cast aspersions on everything I said, not enough to be smug and insulting and oh-so-offensively pompous and pretentious, you then have the gall to suggest that the level of MY information is that of an undergrad intro to law class, and then you, amazingly, were able to justify calling someone you don't know and haven't a clue about, a flat-out LIAR. You called ME a liar. YOU, the person who doesn't check his facts, who hasn't a clue, who posts flamebait, YOU called ME a liar?!

And after sharing your "gut feeling" that I was a liar, and had gotten my legal knowledge from "picking up a brief" (I guess I must be a para-legal, stealing my employer's briefs so I can read that incredibly (yawn) engrossing material into the night, the better to be able to do what?) You then share your astonishing English grammar/spelling knowledge and inform all of us that I either mispelled the word practised (used as a verb) or was being pretentious, without so much as CHECKING a dictionary to make sure that you were right.

Isn't this rich? YOU end up being wrong about pretty much everything you said. YOU are wrong about the designations of state courts. YOU are wrong about the use of the word "practise" as a VERB, and YOU are wrong about how many briefs I've touched or written, and for good measure, way back in the days of my "Legal Writing and Research" class, when we were being taught HOW to write briefs and do legal research.. I got an A on my first "real" brief, and it felt so good that I've tried to maintain that standard, to always check my facts, something that is apparently not in your arsenal. You might try it. Checking facts before attacking is a sure-fire way of not ending up looking the fool.

Sorry this is so long.. Then YOU with your obnoxious, smug condescension dare to tell us all that your "gut feeling" is that I didn't go to law school and wasn't an administrative law judge. Thank you for sharing your insights. Insights that are lacking the smallest vestige of insight, or even of sense in most cases.

And to clarify, for those who aren't familiar with what an admin. law judge (ALJ) does, it's fairly simple. Any court proceeding that isn't criminal or civil is going to be administrative. ALJs make the determinations in everything from Unemployment insurance to Workers' Compensation, to Public Assistance (Welfare) to Food Stamps to SSD/SSI (SSD/SSI are federal programs, so the ALJs there will be Federal employees, not state. I was a state ALJ, less pay, and much less "glory") to Medicaid (not Medicare) to ANYTHING the government has anything to do with. Anything at all that the government gives or takes, be it a license or entitlement program, whatever it is, an ALJ will hear that case.

If you receive food stamps and don't agree with the amount you are getting and think you are due more, or if you are discontinued, you get to ask for what is called in NYS a "Fair Hearing" (it always sounded redundant to me, since shouldn't the hearing be fair by definition? But there you go, that's what it's called) where an ALJ will hear the case and issue a decision based upon the regulations and precedent.

ALJs also sometimes sit in Family Court.. in that case they are typically called "Referees" and are empowered to handle the less complex matters, whereas an elected (or appointed, depends) Family Court Judge will handle the more complex matters. But almost always, an ALJ handles entitlement programs of all stripes including things like liquor licenses, medical licenses (getting them, losing them) licences of all sorts.. anything and everything that the government gives or takes away is administrative, be it money (the entitlement programs) or other sorts of things -- the licenses ranging from medical to motor vehicle. And USUALLY an ALJ will work for one to three state Agencies, hearing a specific kind of case.

Not that it is your concern, but since your "gut" tells you I am a liar, I'll tell you what I did. I heard entitlement type cases, and so was involved with the Department of Labor, the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Services (Public Assistance (PA), Food Stamps (FS), which draws in the Dept. of Labor due to the "Welfare to Work" rules, having to comply with work requirements in order to receive one's "stipend" (they used to train, which was better, but they don't anymore. Not good, since training gets folks off PA, rather than perpetuating the cycle and many folks on PA are simply single parent households who have lost the other spouse due to anything from disability to death to divorce. The stereo-type of the PA recipient is without much justification at all) and health is brought in because PA involves the Dept. of Health, since part of PA is Medicaid (MA).. And so, I handled PA, FS, and MA primarily. I wanted to do Workers' Comp since I had practiced that area of the law for several years and knew it and the ALJs in that jurisdiction quite well, but when the Civil Service exam for WC ALJs came up, I hadn't yet had enough years in practice as an ALJ (WC is considered "above" PA/FS/MA even though both are ALJs -- WC ALJs are grade 27s to start, while we were 25s to start. Enough detailed info for you?

So much for your "gut" feeling, schmuck. (See, I can use Yiddish too. One needn't be overly clever to use the term dreck, or schmuck for that matter, but as you see I have allowed myself to descend to your level. Ugh, I'm sorry that I did (to anyone reading this with the exception of the schmuck who wrote the post I'm replying to) but god, how INCREDIBLY infuriating it is to read that one is a liar, can't spell, and got one's knowledge from a brief or an UNDERGRAD! intro to law class, particularly when one has taught, and now again TEACHES the self-same course at University. Incredible. Utterly infuriating.

It just comes down to this.. you would have thought he would have checked his facts FIRST before posting a bunch of rubbish and telling the world what is and what isn't proper use of the language. Arrrgh. Yes, I am angry, and I want not one, but several apologies. A nice post from the dreck known at KOTHP stating how sorry he is, and how foolish he feels, with some excuse, some reason for his incredibly obnoxious post.

-- I realized on re-reading that I didn't give the explanation for RICO. I know most of you know, since this is a primarily educated audience, what RICO means, but for KOTHP, it is the "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act" (RICO). Like some of the complex IRS cases, RICO cases are often heard WITHOUT a jury, EVEN THOUGH there ARE questions of fact, simply because of the complex nature of the cases, so much detail, and they'd go on so long, that often, a determination is made to waive the jury trial.

Whether both sides have to agree to this, and FYI, ANY TIME the defendant agrees to waive his right to a jury trial, there IS NO jury trial. A jury trial is a RIGHT, not an obligation, thus there are many, many, many cases that could have juries but do not because the defendant, or more correctly, his attorney, understands that fairness is more likely to come from a judge who is trained (if he or she is a good judge) to control emotions and judge only on the facts and not on appearance or reputation, something a jury would have more difficulty doing.


Nothing says "no nookie" like a home on wheels!
[ Parent ]

They said that about radio and TV, too. (NT) (none / 0) (#52)
by Macrobat on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 10:53:22 PM EST

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

No, we did not. (3.00 / 3) (#9)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 04:44:13 AM EST

Since we couldn't organises ourselves, and get together to make decisions without getting lost in a myriad of decisions we knew nothing about, we gave away our rights and elected representatives to do our decision making for us.
No, we did not. That is not what happened. I never attended such an event.

I was born into this country with its huge number of rules and goings on over which I have very little, if any, say. This country was not founded in any way that bears more than a passing resemblance to what you have just announced as historical fact (I know of no country that was). Does it not concern you that you just put forward such a nonhistorical myth to explain the authority that a government claims over you?

The social contract is a metaphor at best. Metaphor is a fancy word for lie.

Humanity is more than you or I (3.33 / 3) (#10)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 04:49:33 AM EST

When I say we, I am not talking of YOU, specifically, or even myself. Life is bigger than both of us.

As for having "very little, if any, say", that's exactly what I'm proposing a solution to.
...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
So... (2.50 / 2) (#11)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 05:08:58 AM EST

... you're saying that someone else, in the Humanity catagory, was giving away our rights sometime? That sounds like another piece of semantic absurdity. They can't give away our rights. These words don't work that way.

Put another way, I think we would need to find some common vocabulary before going any further, because you are speaking nonsense to me.

[ Parent ]

Well, if you don't understand me (5.00 / 2) (#12)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 05:58:25 AM EST

I can only assume you're nitpicking here, but just in case you really don't understand my terminology, read it the way someone else says it. It's not a uncommon point of view. Have a read at


or even just


If that fails to convince you, there are plenty of articles on google about it - a simple bit of research based upon a query like "democracy founded upon revolution" would easily turn up something you can understand.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
people are morons (2.00 / 3) (#16)
by velex on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 09:58:48 AM EST

If it were up to the people to vote directly for legislation, every state would have a DOMA and I would have already moved to Canada to dodge the draft. I'm sure that the drugs I really need would be even more illegal for a "male" to take than becoming comfortably numb again. No one I've ever met has any kind of consistent egalitarian interest at heart. For some reason, people can't just leave you alone.

At any rate, you'd probably still end up with the problem of political parties. You know all those people that just show up to vote democrat ticket or republicrat ticket without knowing for whom they're voting? They'll just do the same in a direct democracy. If the brave democrat leader says that decreasing taxes will take hot lunches away from school children, no democrat's going to lower taxes. If the brave republicrat leader says that decreasing taxes will help Osama, no republicrat's going to lower taxes.

You can't force people to think. At least the representatives in government feign thinking. Putting the power of legislation in the hands of masses is just asking for trouble.

Parties aren't really possible (3.00 / 2) (#21)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 10:32:18 AM EST

Parties aren't really possible. People are elected to vote, just as they are for jury service. Moreover, I proposed an extension, requiring people to have shown a least a little interest in the topic before being elected (by being subscribed to the newsgroup for say, a few days, before being elegible to be elected for jury service.

I guess if people really put their minds to it, then they could show up on mass in every group, and be elected, but jury procedings would be between members of the jury, not the entire party which one jury member belonged.

Even if that member shared his information, but the point is that parties would be *obsolete*. No one would give a crap about what they said anymore, since they had the opportunity to make decisions directly, without a party being involved.

Now, you're right to say that people could still influence each other, but that's a separate issue, and one I don't pretend to have any foolproof answers to. The media today probably has more to do with who gets elected than anyone in any party. Someone actually said as much about the Labour Party being elected in the UK. Like I say, though, that's an issue of people knowing their own minds. Pretty tough to solve. I think giving them the opportunity to do something *should they* know their own minds is pretty important, though.

Your other point, about people being `morons', was already covered in the article.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
A better solution: (1.66 / 3) (#17)
by Anatta on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 10:07:39 AM EST

Put Rusty in charge of it all.
My Music
I would, but (none / 0) (#36)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 12:48:24 PM EST

I think he's busy eating his lunch, or something. Maybe he'll do it after, before the golf ;)
...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
the best part (4.00 / 2) (#18)
by speek on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 10:21:48 AM EST

...this system would be a very valuable tool in the organisation of individual associations, clubs, and other limited groups. From there, it would not be such a large step to if the system were adopted in colleges and other institutions. Businesses would surely adopt such a system eventually, assuming it truly proved to be an efficient tool. The profits would demand such adoption.

More people need to think about these words. Rather than argue, a priori that people are idiots and would fuck-up direct democracy, let's put it into practice somewhere where the results can clearly be measured (ie, a large corporation). If the corporation outperforms, all the naysayers would have to take back their hypotheses. If it fails, then it's just a failed corporation - little harm done.

Besides, everyone who argues "the masses are too stupid to make decisions" are actually saying "I'm too stupid to make decisions". After all, you are part of the masses, and if you argue to take away their decision power, you are also arguing to take away your decision power. And then, you have no right to complain that government is doing stupid things.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

the masses are stupid (none / 0) (#30)
by typhatix on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 12:06:58 PM EST

and so am I about most policies. Most people (including myself) do not have enough information to make good decisions about anything of any scale. I stopped trying to figure out what was the best decision to make regarding multiple policies a while back as I have not nearly the resources, time, nor information to make such decisions. I can basically vote for whichever guy seems smarter and hope with the resources I don't have he can make good decisions.

[ Parent ]
You know, I'm from the UK, but... (none / 0) (#35)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 12:45:38 PM EST

I'm from the UK, and I believe in this idea. Strange that you would raise those particular doubts when you live in a country which currently can elect ex-movie stars to presidency, and rely on presidential advisors to keep him on the straight and narrow.

I was young at the time, but Reagan seemed to do all right, to me. I expect it would be much more difficult for catastrophe to strike when the decisions made were the averaged decisions of many jurors, each of which were advised equally well.
...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
Trials and stupidity (none / 0) (#43)
by epepke on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 04:07:22 PM EST

Rather than argue, a priori that people are idiots and would fuck-up direct democracy, let's put it into practice somewhere where the results can clearly be measured (ie, a large corporation).

I suggest Australia. They're too far away from everything to do much harm.

Besides, everyone who argues "the masses are too stupid to make decisions" are actually saying "I'm too stupid to make decisions".

This is a problem? Of course everybody is too stupid to make decisions about most things. It's very simple. Everybody is stupid. You are, I am, your best friend is. The thing is that different people are stupid about different things at different times. The only reason things work is that people aren't too stupid to make decisions about everything, just most things, so they (ideally) concentrate in areas where their stupidity is less harmful. For any given person, the number of things that person is too stupid to make decisions about is always greater than the number of things that person is smart enough to make decisions about. Also, for any given thing, there are more people too stupid to make decisions about it than people smart enough to make decisions about it.

Now, with a real democracy, you essentially take all these people and arrange a consensus. This produces an ideal Average Idiot who is more stupid than the average person. It is this abstraction that gets to make the decisions.

Let's say, for example, that everybody votes on everything. So, everybody votes on Proposition A, which says that Veeblefetzers should be taxed a 6.2%. Only a tiny minority are going to know enough about Veeblefetzers to make an informed decision. Most people are going to vote on the basis of not wanting to pay taxes, or they saw someone talking about Veeblefetzers on the Jerry Springer show.

So, let's say that not everybody votes on everything, but it's voluntary. Even worse. The folks who vote on the basis of not wanting to pay taxes are still going to vote, but other people won't care.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
I'd be willing to help (3.33 / 3) (#19)
by speek on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 10:28:03 AM EST

I a decent programmer, and this is an issue I've thought about a bunch. One part of it that you haven't touched on is the issue of money and budgeting. This issue would require special attention, I think.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

damn, I can't write anymore (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by speek on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 10:30:17 AM EST

me good programmer. want help nice jel. no write documentation please. thankyou.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Great! Already working on a site (none / 0) (#24)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 10:49:52 AM EST

I'm working on getting a site set up for the project now. My email address is there, in the meantime.
...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
email address is where? (none / 0) (#27)
by speek on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 11:23:40 AM EST

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Oh, it's.. (none / 0) (#34)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 12:38:25 PM EST


...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
Yup, that's an issue (none / 0) (#23)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 10:45:23 AM EST

Yup, I didn't really touch on it because I haven't really thought about it so much yet, apart from noticing it as an issue.

I like to think the system itself would be designed in a simplistic, minimalist sort of way -- built around the basic issues of debates, decisions, resources, and tasks. Hopefully, that would be flexible enough to handle any normal management or other issues that would arise.

I also imagine management of resources like booking facilities etc. would be probably be required, so maybe there's quite a lot to go into the resources part.

Plugins would be a great way to handle things like this =) The issue there, is that some people might start using plugins which others had no access to. You get issues then of ensuring that formats are only valid when everyone can use them. I guess some sort of central resource database, which has an entire plugin along with it's definition would work. That way, your client wouldn't understand the plugin, unless everyone else had access to it, as well.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
bulding off my other post (none / 0) (#26)
by speek on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 11:21:41 AM EST

Maybe the best way to start would be thinking about build such a solution for a company? Rather than thinking in terms of laws and legality, think in terms of business needs. You build it generic enough, and modifying it to then suit the needs of a government would be relatively simple. But, in the meantime, you'd have a more concrete set of requirements to base it on.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

I had Debian in mind (none / 0) (#33)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 12:36:43 PM EST

<p>I had the <a href="http://www.debian.org">Debian Project</a> in mind as the first target. They use an online voting system right now to make their decisions. It might even be worth stealing some voting code from that. It's not ideal though.</p>

<p>Debian currently votes using one system, manages tasks with another, etc. I figure they'd be pretty open to the idea, if it was done right. And, since they are a pretty big & active project, it would be a great proof of concept if they used it.</p>

<p>On top of that, debian is a linux distribution with a great package system. So they tend to favour using software packages which already fit and work within their system (since all the other Debian developers have access to it). Given that, once the package was available, the battle to get people using it is half won. This doesn't just apply to Debian's developers though - it would be available to everyone who uses Debian, and on every Debian CD. There may even be others using the debian voting system right now, who would upgrade. Redhat and other systems aren't too far away either =)</p>

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
Site's up (none / 0) (#68)
by Jel on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 03:15:42 PM EST

Hi Speek, if you're still interested, the site is up, now. It's at


[ Parent ]
checking it out now (nt) (none / 0) (#69)
by speek on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 10:34:34 PM EST

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

link of interest (none / 0) (#29)
by speek on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 11:30:21 AM EST


It's a general description of a plan similar to what you describe.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

Very useful (none / 0) (#32)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 12:25:39 PM EST

Hey, thanks. I've only skimmed that so far, but it looks like it might be useful. It'll be great to sit down and go through all the related projects going on around the 'net. Maybe we can even merge with some other projects.
...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
I thought about this too (1.00 / 1) (#37)
by greenrd on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 01:17:03 PM EST

.... when I was young and more naive. Until you address the funding question, this is just so much hot air. There's also the enforcement question, but funding is critical. -1.

"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes

Actually, that's not very relevant (none / 0) (#38)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 01:34:23 PM EST

This system is about making decisions. There is no reason that issues such as enforcement and funding cannot be decided within the system, just as they are decided within standard democracy.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
How about if you got laid to vote? (none / 0) (#41)
by medham on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 03:41:55 PM EST

Virtually or otherwise, depending on your preference. The party with the best mound/root support would deservedly win.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

Hmmm... not just yet (none / 0) (#42)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 03:53:06 PM EST

I don't think society's quite ready for that yet =^)

Nice idea, though. If anyone can make it work, I'm up for it, at least =)
...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
Related projects (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by dennis on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 06:22:55 PM EST

One related project is VeniVidiVoti. The basic idea is that you can delegate your vote on any topic to someone else. That person can take all the votes delegated to him, and delegate them to other people for subtopics.

Also, the Fully Informed Jury Assoc. advocates, possibly, a first step towards decentralized lawmaking.

Thanks for the links (none / 0) (#49)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 07:41:50 PM EST

I'd looked at VVV before, and it seemed quite interesting. Somehow, I got sidetracked at some point before really examining it, though. Thanks for the reminder.
...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
VVV (none / 0) (#66)
by emmanuel.charpentier on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 08:22:17 AM EST

Don't hesitate to ask me if you need any information about it.

In a few words, it's a collaborative writing system. People can propose text's elements, can agree or disagree with the proposed elements, and can delegate their agreement to someone else (who can also delegate...)

Eventually, actions can be set to disappear after a while. If the period is short, you would obtain a newspaper or a slashdot like site.

I'm preparing for a new release, and I have a server on webappcabaret waiting for a live demo.


[ Parent ]

GNU.FREE (none / 0) (#70)
by mbrubeck on Fri Feb 15, 2002 at 03:20:05 AM EST

Here's another important direct democracy project: GNU.FREE. They are producing a software infrastructure for secure electronic voting and tallying.

[ Parent ]
Yes... and no =) (none / 0) (#73)
by Jel on Fri Feb 15, 2002 at 06:27:22 AM EST

Yes, that one gave me great hope when I first came across it. The summary I read lead me to believe it was what I was looking for, but when I got there and read about, I was quite disappointed at the similarity to current systems.

Still, some of it's underlying technology might prove to be very useful. I'd be happy to borrow someone else's security system, being no expert on such things =^)

[ Parent ]
Giving too much Weight and Incorrect Assumptions (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by Woundweavr on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 09:10:23 PM EST

It sounds well and good, but really the idea won't work. The Internet isn't as important as you imagine. For instance, you dismiss location and language as irrelevant. However, if you can't read/write English, you can't reasonably discuss things here on k5. Location is very important to governing, unless you think things in Nome, Brazilia, Boston, Kabul and Johanesberg have the same needs and conditions.

Also, in alot of ways the government did create the net. The infastructure and protocol of the Internet was founded by ARPAnet which was funded/run by the US government. Don't dismiss it's contribution.

There are lots of mechanical flaws in your system. Funding is the most obvious. Another is desirability. Will anyone want to regulate toilet temp? And if so, how many? Some of the most important decisions made can be pretty boring, such as budgets and industry regulation. Those who have the most to gain will take those spots if they are voluntary and if they are elected no one will run. If spots are voluntary, the most popular and non boring important issues will be crowded to the point where individuals again cannot be heard. If the system is elected, it is prone to the same corruption as current system and determining who is qualified requires some type of outside overview (a certification program or some such). Also, making sure that the system works are designed requires an overview system as well. This overview system acts as a government of the government and thus you again have a small elite. That kinda wrecks the whole purpose of the system. The only advantage this system has is mostly nullified while taking only several disadvantages.

Misunderstood (1.00 / 1) (#54)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 11:49:20 PM EST

Actually location truly is irrelevant. It makes no difference on the 'net whether you are in a New York or on a submarine in the middle of the pacific. As long as you can establish an internet link through communications networks, then it's an internet connection like any other. Did you think about this issue?

Language, for another thing, is also truly irrelevant is simplicity itself to right an application which works in more than one language. Has been for many, many years.

Assuming the application is understood in some way -- either because you know the language, someone makes a native language version, or even if you pick it up because GUIs are relatively simple concepts, regardless of the language on a button -- then the remaining part of the language barrier is simply who you are talking to.

Again, it seems like you haven't thought this through much. It's a simple matter to translate a webpage these days. The obvious option is to supply the content in multiple languages via paid translators. Alternatively, many websites can be automatically translated for free at the touch of a button.

The proposed system isn't a translation tool, and should't be expected to solve all of the issues of a translation tool. It is sufficient that the system does not present any bias for or against the use of such tools.

I said that language and location are irrelevant for the reasons above. I did not take the statement lightly, nor did I draw the "assumptions" you refer to, correct or incorrect. You should not expect that I did any of these things. Such things are commonly accepted features of the internet, and in fact, I'm surprised at being asked to explain them so "late in the game" as we are now.

I'm well aware that internet derived from ARPAnet, etc, etc. It's a very common story on the 'net. This is no more relevant than the fact that ARPA was founded in direct response to soviet actions. ARPA is no more responsible for modern internet than the soviets are. In fact, ARPA completely shut down in 1990, and the web was founded in 1991. Again, I did not say such things lightly, I knew what I was writing.

As for the "mechanical flaws" you mention... I have said a few times now that such things as funding are side issues. Their can be present or not. My project is opensource, and will exist because I care enough to put in the effort funding or the lack of it is truly irrelevant here, if nowhere else. If you spoke of funding the projects being discussed within the system, then there is nothing to prevent discussions of funding within the system too. In fact, that is the proper,sensible, and intended way to do it. But this was already stated previously.

Like funding, the issue of whether members of s society find it's function boring is a little outside the scope of that society's decision making process. It is a matter of social values, laws, policies and enforcement. Again, as with funding, the proposed system is independant of such things, as one would expect in any decent form of government.

Finally, you make too many assumptions when you say that the system requires an elite in order to ensure it functions correctly. This is intuitively wrong, given the fact that a caretaker can look after a building, yet in no way becomes the elite. In fact, normal society demeans such work.

Furthermore, the web is such a system, and even without direct intention that this should be so, the "elite" of the web, as you might call them, in W3C, etc, find it very difficult to enforce their views. In essence, the web would go on, regardless of whether they existed or not. That hardly provides a basis for true elitism. So, no... that does not "kinda wreck the whole purpose of the system", but reinforces it.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
No. You're simply Wrong (none / 0) (#78)
by Woundweavr on Mon Feb 18, 2002 at 05:02:15 PM EST

Yawn. Location is relevant, if not on the 'net, which is not true, than to governance. Do you think that each locale needs the same thing? No. Thus different things are needed by different areas. Different areas don't have the economy and education type that will allow signifigant time to spend on newsgroups as geeks do. I'd say less than 5% of the world has the time to spend on the Internet that going to k5 suggests.

Language has been been irrelevant for many many years? What are you talking about? Right now, I want you to translate k5 into a readable Mandarin, Swahli, Gaelic, and Portugese without any change of meaning. It can basically be done... but not easily. You obviously know little to nothing about linguistics. Just because you can make /. into jive doesn't mean that language doesn't matter.

ARPA invented TCP/IP, that which makes the Internet possible. ARPA was part of the US government. Without TCP/IP the Internet is not possible. I don't see how you can claim the government had nothing to do with the web when it could not exist without first being arpanet. CERN, or the European Lab. for Particle Physics gets much of its funding (indirectly usually) from its member nations. Government had a much smaller role here but it still is not insignifigant.

Your paragraph related to funding is barely understandable given typos and wrong words used but I'll try to respond. The fact that the software may be opensource is completely irrelevant. I wasn't speaking of funding of the actualy structure, although the hardware side would cost money. People do not like taxes. A budget cannot be constructed piecemeal, nor is it small enough for one group on a newsgroup to construct one. We are talking about a document with thousands of pages each year in the US alone. People like things (sometimes) like welfare, and education funding and road upkeep. But they don't want to pay for it. Thats why a President who says he'll lower taxes often wins. The budget just would not work.

You obviously didn't comprehend my statements on the interest of issues. Civil rights is an interesting issue. It would have more volunteers than it knew what to do with. Foreign policy would have alot of people for the general side and few for the economic side. Industrial standardization, such as the temperature of toilet water as was given as an example would not. Thus the power over those things that are important but not exciting would place too much power in the hands of those who were in those usenet groups.

A caretaker is not in charge. She works for someone else just as someone who cleans your house is not in charge but still needs to take orders(if you will) from someone. Who decides how exactly this system works, and who maintains the hardware and protects the system etc etc. Who watches the watchers.

Particullarly poor was your Soviet comparison. Your logic was something along the lines of the Soviets didn't cause it so the US didn't either. Thats like blaming the girl with the short skirt for rape. The US government funded and made the Internet possible in its early phases and claiming the modern web has nothing to do with it when the entire structure rests on its arpanet roots is just ignorant. Except for its widespread nature, ability to deliver dynamic content and ability to transfer information the web is nothing more than another way to spread information. Two of those are from ARPAnet, one is from CERN, both of which receive alot(or all) of its money from the government

[ Parent ]

Different perspectives (none / 0) (#79)
by Jel on Tue Feb 19, 2002 at 08:49:49 AM EST

You argue that location is relevant because people in some countries aren't developed enough to have the kind of access required, or the lifestyle required to utilise that access. That is a fair point, but I've already stated in the article that some countries aren't ready for such things yet, and indicated that the long-term potential of globalisation was not expected to happen soon, if at all. So, we're agreed on this. No big deal there.

You're right. I do "know little to nothing about linguistics". I do know enough Mandarin to appreciate the difficulty you speak of, though. But, let me say again, I was just pointing out that the system itself is capable of being translated into other languages.

As for the content of discussions. Well, they currently take place in native languages anyway, with translators employed for international conferences, etc. The system allows for such things, just as normal methods of decision making do.

Most debates in my country take place in English. However, they can and do employ translators when required. Equally, most discussions in a local group would take place in whatever language they are comfortable with. Should they need to discuss issues with people who speak other languages, the need to find a method of communication will remain, regardless of what decision making system they employ.

I therefore don't see how language is important in this discussion. Surely you would agree that having access to automated language translation via the net is at least a little better than having none at all, as most forums would without employed translators?

Come on, the typos weren't that bad, were they? I realised that you were probably talking about funding of initiatives as opposed to the software/hardware aspect. However, I answered both possible questions.

Again, you have a good point about budgets not being composed in a piecemeal fashion. But you're looking at the whole thing from a particular scenario, and expecting it solve every problem in that scenario.

I'm not claiming this to be the perfect solution to any particular scenario. I did express my personally preferred scenario as a possible outcome, but that is a little different.

This system is designed to let people organise themselves, whatever scenario they find or choose to put themselves in. It is intended to fulfil that purpose, not to solve any particular scenario.

I'm advocating a system where people can decide the best way of managing a budget. That is quite different, and has quite different considerations from advocating any particular method of budgeting. However, there is a slight overlap in such things, and I'll certainly keep it in mind.

Regarding interest in decision making... you are right. Many issues would have many contributors. Equally, many would have few if any.

But, if no one cares, then the situation is precisely that... no one cares. If a company opens a debate on the preferred size of plastic cups, and no one takes an interest, then they are perfectly entitled to decide it for themselves.

However, I would be suprised if any issue thought worthy of opening for debate had absolutely no interest. Issues are opened to debate precisely because some interest is expected. If the wrong issues are opened for debate, or incorrectly kept closed, then that is an issue between users of the debating system, not with the debating system itself.

Again, this goes back to the scenario vs scenario management thing. There are some things which only society itself can ever decide. I just want to give society an extra tool, to aid in making those decisions fairly.

Same goes for the question of who is in charge, caretakers, etc. It's just not something that this system needs to worry about, one way or the other. The system will adapt, whoever is in charge of things. Although I hope it will one day become a form of government, it could just as easily be used to organise a branch of my local bank, despite that branch having to report back to head office, etc., who would not need to use it.

Equally, it could be used to organise branches at head office, despite each branch using a different management system.

[ Parent ]
Tyranny of the Majority (1.00 / 1) (#53)
by meersan on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 11:16:17 PM EST

Of the above-mentioned forms [of government], the perversions are as follows: of royalty, tyranny; of aristocracy, oligarchy; of constitutional government, democracy. For tyranny is a kind of monarchy which has in view the interest of the monarch only; oligarchy has in view the interest of the weathy; democracy, of the needy: none of them the common good of all.

Aristotle, Politics Book III, 7

An absolute democracy (as opposed to the representational form utilized by modern democracies) will necessarily trample the rights and interests of the minority. There are enough problems with majority rule in the United States alone, even with the Bill of Rights and other safeguards. There is no need to compound the problem a thousand-fold.

All democracy is imperfect. This is no different (none / 0) (#55)
by Jel on Wed Feb 13, 2002 at 11:56:03 PM EST

This is a form of democracy, with only some improvement upon what is already available. It has flaws, one of them, which you mention, being the fact that it is a democracy, which essentially means majority rule.

The difference here, is that the majority which rule on any particular issue is not the same majority which rules on any other issue. Each vote is taken independantly, and thereforce each vote re-rolls the dice as to who becomes the majority, and who becomes the minority.

How this increases the problem one thousand fold, I cannot comprehend. If anything, it would seem to do the opposite. If you have any reason to suggest that, other than defensiveness against the unknown, I would like to hear it.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
Random is as random does (none / 0) (#56)
by meersan on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 01:02:59 AM EST

The difference here, is that the majority which rule on any particular issue is not the same majority which rules on any other issue. Each vote is taken independantly, and thereforce each vote re-rolls the dice as to who becomes the majority, and who becomes the minority.

This is no difference at all. Firstly, a sufficiently random sample presents the same problem as pure democracy: the sample possesses the same views as the whole. However, the system you advocate makes no attempt to randomize from the voter pool at large. Instead you draw from a self-selecting group composed of dilettantes and zealots. Representational democracy filters out precisely these wackos and armchair warriors by forcing representatives to appeal to the citizenry as a whole.

I could go on and on, but I wanted to address your response specifically. Please do not characterize my opinion as "defensiveness against the unknown". I did not characterize yours, sir, as ignorant tripe. (Well, ok, I just did.)

[ Parent ]
Apologies for the misunderstanding (none / 0) (#61)
by Jel on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 02:20:14 AM EST

I didn't mean to actually accuse you of being defensive -- just to make you aware of the possibility. If that offended, then I apologise.

On to the topic at hand then. Wackos exist in any system. The fact that the ones considered wackos in some situations may actually the sane ones necessitates that their input is valued as much as the opinions of anyone else.

This is a common mistake. The groups I mention do not just contain militant zealots with one view. They contain every member of society interested a particular topic, whether they are in favour of that topic, or against it. There is every reason to think that this would be a fair distribution of viewpoints, and no reason to assume that they are all "wackos".

What I was trying to point out however, and obviously failed to do, is that a normal system might well elect people who some consider to be "wackos". This system defeats that problem by a simple law of averages -- there are many more elections, none of which are so serious, therefore consequences of perhaps electing a "wacko" are greatly reduced. It is reasonable to assume that a "wacko" would be elected somewhere, sometime -- again, by the law of averages. Therefore, a system which minimises the risk of this is an improvement in my view. Perhaps you disagree.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
ideas offered (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by adiffer on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 01:37:48 AM EST

Whether your project could support a new form of government or not doesn't concern me too much. Our governments here in the US do tend to evolve over time, so I expect them to make use of newer systems that help them do the jobs for which we elect them.

I am interested in your project, though. I can see a use for such a system in helping an elected representative know what their people want, don't want, and don't mind. I've occasionally dabbled with the thought of running for an elective office on the local level here in California. One of the things holding me back is the realization that no matter how smart or connected I am or try to be, I can't really keep up with what the citizens want, think, or ignore. Our public officials play a guessing game most of the time. Those with any money make use of polling to stay in touch, but that approach has its limits.

If I was an elected official, I would want such a system to help me keep connected to those I am serving. If such a system existed and didn't cost too much, I would implement it and advertise it in my district. You and others might think the system would eventually replace me. You might be right, but in the mean time, it would help me do a better job.

Making a good system for determining public positions would help officials in representative democracies. This is the angle I think you can use to get your nose in the tent. If such a system is successful, it would shift power to the people who use it even if the legal form of government doesn't change much.


On an implementaton note, I offer the following ideas too.

A single hierarchical structure would go over like a lead balloon here in the US. Our governments are structured in a federalist style for reasons we won't quickly give up. Our lack of trust of any government branch is at the heart of the issue. Our lack of trust for a new system like yours, no matter how it was organized, would be equally ensured.

When it comes to choosing juries, I have an alternative idea for you that avoids the word 'jury' but keeps to your approach. {Jury duty over here has certain negative connotations. Best if you avoid the term.}

Imagine there is a decision coming up that you and I care about. I recognize that you know more about the subject than I do. In a direct democracy, I would probably ask how you intended to vote and then do the same when the time came. An alternative approach though, would be for me to hand you my proxy and let you vote for both of us. I would have a proxy to offer because I expressed an interest in making that decision. Anyone who actively reaches out to the system and asks for a say would then be able to assign the token they receive to their representative. This approach ensures only those who care are likely to have any influence on any one decision. The apathetic groups wouldn't bother. The antisocial personalities would probably get bored and move on after a little while. Public key cryptography could probably do the dirty work of keeping track of proxies and making sure people can't collect more than one per person per decision.

I await your website. This sounds like fun. 8)
-Dream Big. --Grow Up.

Very interesting (none / 0) (#62)
by Jel on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 02:45:33 AM EST

You make some interesting points. Although some of what you suggest isn't the primary goal of the project, I'll certainly try to make that an optional method of use.

I found your point about the dislike of hierarchies enlightening. To some extent, this hierarchical structure is counteracted by borrowing things such as resources and rules horizontally from other groups, but I'll certainly keep that in mind, and try to create something which doesn't feel hierarchical, even if it mostly is on some internal level.

On the notion of proxies, etc... my solution was to allow people to abstain, by simply not being involved in any groups for which they had no understanding or interest.

If one hundred people who do not understand a subject give one person the right to place their 100 votes, then they have effectively offset the balance power in a way they, by definition, do not understand. Moreover, they
have offset the balance by a total of 101 votes (including the vote of the actual one who does the voting). This would be more powerful than anyone elses decision. To me, it is a simple matter to abstain from making decisions when you don't understand the issues.

Am I missing something here? Do you see things in another way? The only reason I can imagine for such a system of proxy voting would be that, since normally, votes count for so much, electing one person for a long term of office, then people might want to feel like they did *something*, even if they don't know exactly what.

When you can have many opportunities to vote, and can choose to vote on the issues that matter most to you, personally, then I don't think such things would be needed or even desired. I have certainly heard of the system though, so perhaps I am missing something, as I say.

...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
my fault (none / 0) (#74)
by adiffer on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 04:53:58 AM EST

I wasn't clear enough on one point. Sorry about that.

The only people who would get proxies are the ones who express an actual interest in influencing a decision. Most people wouldn't bother due to a lack of interest, so we wouldn't be awash in proxies. It is possible there will be a few that get them with no intent to use them or an intent to use them for a different purpose, but if the decisions are mostly low level stuff, apathy should set in pretty quickly for everyone for whom the topic isn't relavant. This would cut the number of possible votes in any one decision enough to prevent swamping.

There is one issue that comes to mind though. I don't see how you can stop vote buying. If I want something bad enough, I could offer to pretend an interest in other decisions and sell my votes to those who will do the same for me in the decisions I want to win. Once people become aware of this, some will band together and influence blocks of decisions as a group. I can see a clear incentive for doing this, so I'm sure others would catch on. This would give rise to party behavior.
-Dream Big. --Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

Agreed. Am I missing something? (none / 0) (#75)
by Jel on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 04:14:29 PM EST

Agreed, on everything you say there. It's an agreement on the superficial issue though -- I'm not sure why you actually want these proxy votes. I understand the means by which they would work, but what is the end they aim to achieve? Is it somehow better to have give away your vote than to simply abstain? If so, I hope you will explain, because I can't see how at the moment.

To me, (perhaps as a non-US citizen, or for other reasons, I don't know) any idea of transferrable votes seems very strange indeed, for precisely the potential abuses you mention.

The system I imagine would simply bypass that whole problem by having members of a discussion group represent everyone else who didn't bother to join in that particular discussion. It is, in that sense, a sort of automatic proxy vote. The only real difference is that you don't get to choose who votes in your place -- the entire group votes in your place, since you have implied that you are disinterested enough not to follow arguments put forward within the group.

BTW, I almost missed this post, thinking things had quietened down. Contact details are listed on the site, in case you want to email me directly.

[ Parent ]
a bit more clarification (none / 0) (#76)
by adiffer on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 04:50:57 AM EST

I'll email this to you at ampu ta artelos tod com as well as post it here. We can move this off-line for those with a longer attention span than it takes for a story to leave the front page. 8)

I see a continuum of possibilities regarding the votes, so that is why I would propose a proxy system. We use them in corporate votes all the time over here, so the mechanism is well developed. Here is the idea in a bit more detail.

In most votes, I won't care about the outcome. If given a choice to vote, I would abstain. In these cases, there isn't much point in me participating, so I wouldn't. Your proposal covers this possibility.

In some votes, I will care about the outcome. If given a chance to vote, I would do the research and try hard to influence the outcome through my vote and political efforts to swing other people. Your proposal covers this possibility even if it must be done through a representative on a jury.

In some votes, I will care about the outcome, but I will not have time to do the proper research. I might know someone I trust who would put in the time. I would be inclined to let them do the work and then ask them how they would vote so I could duplicate their choice. This is a very typical way ballot measures get handled here in California. Your proposal wouldn't support this possibility because the jury members all have equal weighting.

Consider the following example:
A group of 1000 people are asked to choose one out of four options they want best. These options are A, B, C, D. If all voters took the time to research each option and then come to a conclusion, a direct democracy would produce some kind of result. Let's label the vote output as a, b, c, and d where the lower case variables apply the their respective upper case choices. A similar result can be achieved through a representative democracy with four voters wielding proxies given them by the other 996. In a more realistic scenario, a large fraction of the group won't do the research and will instead turn to other members they trust to do what is best for them and hand over their proxies or not vote at all. A system to support this more realistic scenario would involve making proxies available to those who asked for them and not bother the rest. Anyone left with a token on the day of the decision votes it.

In my oh so humble opinion, this middle area where the 'lazy voter' can be found is the root cause for why representative democracies tend to evolve from even the smallest of direct democracies like neighborhoods or very small towns.

If your project can support this approach to weighted voting, most people in the US will understand it without a second thought. They will also tend to feel that they can make their vote count when they wish to do so and tell everyone not to bother them when they don't. Even the people we elect would understand it. They might even be convinced to put it to use for their own interests as I described earlier and your camel's nose would get in the tent.
-Dream Big. --Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

I see, consider it done =) (none / 0) (#77)
by Jel on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 06:48:53 AM EST

I see what you mean, despite some reservations. The idea of the voting component within AMPU already allowed for various methods of electing people, various jury sizes, etc. So, I doubt this would be much more difficult to include. Given that, and your points about its acceptance, consider it done.

It does raise a lot of potential for abuse though. I had planned a method of setting policies that would let you choose election methods etc, so in theory this would be used only when the group was happy with using it. That in part solves the problem. I'm curious, though... how is the problem handled normally, in the corporate elections you mention? Simple enforcement/monitoring?

BTW, replying here, since no email arrived. Did you send it, or is that email address broken somehow?

[ Parent ]
Website is up (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by Jel on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 12:41:31 PM EST

<p>OK, the <a href="http://www.freesoftware.fsf.org/ampu/">AMPU Website</a> is up.</p>

Well, maybe you couldn't call it a website, exactly, but it does the job for now. Links to a project site on Savannah, and two mailing lists. There won't be much to announce for a while, but feel free to subscribe if you want to know when there is.

Developers are more than welcome, too... feel free to join the -dev list, and ask questions or whatever. The last link is to Savannah of course, where you can actually get involved more directly. The primary development platform is GNU/Linux with C++, but there is plenty of room for porting ;)

Just remember, it's pre-pre-alpha right now, and the only document is <em>this one</em>. But we'll work on that =^)

Private Democracy (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by malcolm on Fri Feb 15, 2002 at 05:01:36 AM EST

I have also done a fair bit of thinking and research on this subject.

As has already been pointed out to some degree, a big problem is that people will not take notice of what the site decides. Even when presented with proven, overwhelming public support governments do not always side with the people.

I propose a different system, where initiatives are directly carried out by private citizens and supported by whoever wants to see the project carried out. This will be more a new form of business than a government, but it will enable virtually any form of project to be carried out - even political lobbying to change laws, for example.

There are many problems with the system I have yet to fully resolve, such as how to avoid scams. Identification would be absolutely necessary (as in your proposal), which may be unpopular particularly with the type of person likely to be interested in this.

I'm not sure if this is compatible with what you are planning but I will still be interested in this project - I don't have the time or energy to carry out my plan at present.

Similar ideas (none / 0) (#72)
by Jel on Fri Feb 15, 2002 at 06:15:32 AM EST

I think we're on the same lines here, for the most part, at least... the `different system' of `initiatives proposed by the people involved' is exactly what I (tried to) suggest.

The system I have in mind would allow raising of initiatives very easily, much like starting a new thread on a forum/usenet. In fact, it would be so easy to start initiatives that some sort of pre-filtering would likely be required to weed out the junk. I guess something along the lines of the submission queue right here on K5.

As for trying to make the government comply with decisions made, hmm... that would essentially be an overcomplex form of petition. What I'm suggesting is a system of self-government (whether for the governing of a country, or just your local club, small business, whatever). This includes issues such as project management within the system.

I'm not sure what level of complexity this should follow yet, though. Something as simple as "It's been started -- Mr X is responsible for it... Yup, it's done." would be easy.

Something more like sourceforge is most likely though, with individual tracking and progress for each task undertaken by the taskforce. Taskforces, of course, as I said, would be the subgroups setup to see a particular project through to completion or failure. Even if task management couldn't be implemented immediately, I'm sure groups could easily organise some simple form in the mean time, such as frequent project summary posts, or whatever.

In short, our difference here seems to be that you are imagining an attempt to influence large government bodies by a few, whilst I'm proposing that when the people already charged with governing a body (be it a small club, or a country) choose to organise it using this system. That way, people can build on their success. If it works for a school, then it might work for a university. If it works for a university, then it might work for other large institutions. If it works for the large insitutions, then it might work for corporations and the country itself.

[ Parent ]
AMPU - Delivering Direct Democracy through Technology | 79 comments (69 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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